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GOP Hopeful Herman Cain: David Koch's Stalking Horse?

What goes unremarked in profiles of Herman Cain is his connection to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the organization founded by David Koch.

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During the protests, MacIver was exposed for misrepresenting one of its allies as a progressive activist, releasing a video in which a purported protester said a labor-allied doctor was writing fraudulent sick-day excuses for protesting workers. That "protester," according to karoli, a blogger at the liberal Web site Crooks and Liars, turned out to be video producer Christian Hartsock, who made his name working with James O'Keefe on the discredited video that was used to fatally smear the community organizing group, ACORN.

The Answer to ACORN

At last year's RightOnline conference, an event sponsored by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Wisconsin Prosperity Network executive director Linda Hansen unveiled before a roomful of activists at a Las Vegas hotel her latest project, Prosperity 101, the employer-sponsored workplace seminar program that advances the Koch agenda to nervous workers. On hand for the presentation was Herman Cain, along with Wall Street Journal Web columnist John Fund, whose colleague, editorial board member Stephen Moore, is, with Cain, a spokesperson for the program.

"A key component of Prosperity 101 is working with employers to help them encourage voter registration among their employees," Hansen explained to the crowd. "So when Herman [Cain] first heard the concept here, he said, 'You've come up with the answer to ACORN!'"

Cain, during his presentation, piped up, "when [Hansen] first came to me with Mark Block to explain the concept, I said, ‘This is fantastic!'"

When I tried to learn more about the Prosperity 101 program -- which is used by two of the top 50 privately held corporations in the U.S.: Menard Inc. and Reinhart FoodService, a division of Reyes Holdings -- my emails to Hansen went unanswered. When I told a member of the Americans for Prosperity staff that I couldn't get through to Hansen, she suggested I talk to Mark Block, who did not return my call or respond to my email.

As chance would have it, I ran into Block last February in the lobby of the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C., site of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, at which Cain delivered a well-received speech. When I asked him for a few words about Prosperity 101, Block told me I'd have to talk with the people who were organizing it. When I said I had been directed to him by Americans for Prosperity, he looked down at his BlackBerry and walked away.

A Stalking Horse?

Go to the issues page of the Herman Cain for President Web site, and you'll find an agenda not unlike that of Americans for Prosperity -- in fact, almost exactly like that of Americans for Prosperity (save for military might, and "faith and family," items on which AFP does not appear to take a position). At the centerpiece of Cain's platform, according to the New York Times, is a 23-percent flat consumption tax, which Cain would implement in place of the federal income tax. Here's a page from the Illinois AFP chapter site that opines for just such a flat-tax scheme as advanced by the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore, Cain's partner in the AFP-linked Prosperity 101 employee-indoctrination program.

Later this week, Cain is scheduled to speak at an AFP event in New York, where he is expected to inveigh against the carbon-trading scheme known as cap-and-trade that is part of the Obama energy plan and one of AFP's pet peeves. (Koch Industries' core business is in the gas and oil sector.)

When Cain's presidential candidacy was launched, it's likely that his AFP-linked backers never expected he would win the GOP presidential nomination, but that he would make an effective messenger for pushing the party further to the Koch positions. As it looks now, Cain could do even better than that, given the weak GOP presidential field. With each contest in primary season, contenders win delegates to the national convention, where the party platform is laid. Cain will likely do well in New Hampshire -- he could even win the state, as Patrick J. Buchanan did with his populist rhetoric in 1996. And with that win, and strong showings in a few other states, the Buchananites won control of the GOP platform, causing the nominee, Bob Dole, to run on a platform he could hardly stomach.

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